Gratitude is the deep appreciation for one’s personal blessings and for the kindness, help, consideration and support received from others. Being grateful promotes one’s good health, mood and wellbeing and fosters better relationships.
As children we are taught to thank those who give us birthday gifts, help us with a difficult task or teach us something new. We reluctantly follow this advice to please our parents while being unaware that gratitude personally enhances us as well.
As adults we are sometimes encouraged to “count our blessings” when we are grieving a loss, feeling hurt, discouraged, disgruntled or ill. Though it may be hard to hear it at the time, this suggestion is a wise practice in lowering our despair and helping us regain a more balanced perspective.
Handled correctly, the advice to concentrate on the positive aspects of our lives should be preceded by a validation of our unhappiness and then followed by encouragement to find our own personal soothing thoughts through gratitude.
The leading gratitude researchers, Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California, and Dr. Michael McCullough of the University of Miami discovered that subjects who wrote daily about their gratitude were more optimistic, felt better about their lives, exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who wrote about their daily aggravations.
Emotions are bi-products of thoughts. We feel happier when we entertain positive thoughts and are saddened and discouraged by negative ones. The process of modifying our thinking is completely within our control. While it is unreasonable to expect that we can will ourselves to be grateful most of the time, increasing the frequency of positive thinking is beneficial.
According to a Mayo Clinic report, “Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include: increased life span, lower rates of depression, lower levels of distress, greater resistance to the common cold, better psychological and physical well-being, reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and better coping skills during hardships and times of stress.”
Positive thinking also creates for us the ease of interpersonal gratitude. Valuing oneself leads to thankfulness about being considered worthy enough to receive the kindness of others. Gratitude also secures the giver and receiver mutually respectful and caring bond.
In love relationships, the knowledge that your mate appreciates you is paramount to your happiness. Shared gratitude between you and your partner is emotionally fortifying, promotes team building and contributes to the security and stability of your committed union.
To be grateful:
- Understand that kindness extended to you by another is a voluntary gift. Being appreciative honors both of you.
- Realize that expressed gratitude creates warmth, mutual respect and interpersonal connection.
- Value your ability to direct your mind toward positive thoughts and subsequent good feelings.
- Practice thoughts of gratitude for the gifts of your life, your mate and family. This will increase your health and longevity, wellbeing and relationship happiness.